Wednesday Round Up #141

This image of the molecular structure of human oxytocin really caught my eye! It comes from a new blog, Ergo Sum Daniel written by Daniel Ocampo Daza, a PhD neuroscience at Uppsala University in Sweden.

Ocampo Daza’s post, Oxytocin, Ethnocentrism And “Hormonal Determinism”, gives an insightful analysis of why hormonal determinism is wrong, focusing on a recent study claiming a link between oxytocin and ethnocentrism.

His follow-up post, Oxytocin, Ethnocentrism And Evolution (pt. 2), focuses on poor evolutionary arguments. It’s always great to discover an exciting new blog!


Wen Stephenson, Poisoning The Well
*A new book on global warming, which takes an honest and brutal look at how our world will look in 50 years.
-You can find an interview With Mark Hertsgaard, the author of Hot, on what motivated him to write about global warming. It boils down to the world his daughter will face when she grows up.

Seth Messinger, Medical Anthropology in a Military Treatment Facility
*An engaging recounting of this anthropologist’s research at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, where he looked at rehabilitation of soldiers who suffered “traumatic amputation”

Alice Bell, Sexual Discrimination against Women in Science may be Institutional
*Great take on new research which shows that discrimination against women is no longer a question of old troglodytes and bias in selection processes. “Women in science face a career structure and culture that is weighted against them”

Bradley Voytek, How To Be A Neuroscientist
*Required reading for science reporters. Excellent guide to reducing inaccurate reporting on scientific studies.
-On the public communications side, Brad has a fun video Nerd Nite Zombie Brain Talk Online! Zombies as the way to teach neuroscience in a fun manner, plus a few beers

Ada @CulturalNeuroscience, The What, Why and How of Cultural Neuroscience – Part 2: Why Study Cultural Neuroscience?
*Continued good coverage of this emerging field

Brian Mossop, Neurostress: How Stress May Fuel Neurodegenerative Diseases
*An in-depth look at how stress contributes to neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s.

Yale Law School, The Cultural Cognition Project
*Interesting interdisciplinary project examining how culture influences our risk perception and opinion of policy.

Teaching Science, Teaching With Blogs 1/5 Students Reading Blogs
*If you’re considering new ways to inspire and engage your students, you should think about encouraging them to read blogs and create their own. Great post on the benefits of science blogs, including the breadth of topics covered.

Eric Johnson, Touching Death
*Burial rituals vary across cultures, but the urge to touch the deceased seems to be a common feeling, which is also found among non-human animals. Read this post on animals mourning the dead and watch an emotional video of a chimpanzee mother caressing her dead baby.

Corydon Ireland, Scholarship Beyond Words
*The dissertation format gets revamped ! Harvard recently approved a PhD field in critical media practice that allows students to incorporate video, film, and other multimedia in their work.

Nature News, Priority List
*The biggest questions currently being debated in the social sciences, according to some luminaries

Christian Jarrett, The Deadly Sins
*The seven deadly sins and our struggle to maintain self-control. Interesting psychological perspective of why we succumb to our desires.

Roepstorff A, Niewöhner J, and Beck S., Enculturing Brains Through Patterned Practices
*Good article blending the fields of anthropology and neurosicence to explain brain activity.

e! Science, Lifestyle Affects Life Expectancy More than Genetics
*It’s not your parents’ lifespan that matters. It’s what you do during yours.

Those who did not smoke, consumed moderate amounts of coffee and had a good socio-economic status at the age of 50 (measured in terms of housing costs), as well as good physical working capacity at the age of 54 and low cholesterol at 50 had the greatest chance of celebrating their 90th birthday.


Richard Powers, What Is Artificial Intelligence?
*Man vs. Machine : Round 2. IBM built a computer that beat the reigning chess champion Gary Kasparov in 1997 and now they’re planning on taking on the top two players on Jeopardy.

Joe Kloc, The Illustrated Guide to Epigenetics
*Clear illustrations and insightful descriptions cover the basics of we’ve learned about epigenetics over the past ten years

Ed Yong, Gut Bacteria Steer The Development Of The Young Brain
*Surprising research findings suggesting that the bacteria we’re initially exposed to after birth can affect our brain’s development.

Susan Pinker, How Learning Is Like Working On A Construction Site
*Varying lessons are the key to encouraging students to learn new topics. Research showing that rather than focusing on one topic until it is mastered is not the best way to teach.

Megan Galeucia and Ariel Appel, The Intelligence Of The Senses
*Excellent introduction to sensory ethnography and how it’s changing how anthropologists present their research and engaging non-anthropologists.

Tara Parker-Pope, Teenagers, Friends And Bad Decisions
*Parental supervision may be needed for even the most well-behaved, mature teens. New findings showing the influence of peer pressure, even when friends are not physically present.

Maia Szalavitz, Marijuana Linked with Earlier Onset of Schizophrenia in Research Review
*Comprehensive coverage of recent research which parses the complex issues – short story, for those with a family history of psychosis, starting marijuana earlier increases risk significantly. For the majority of people, no difference

Michael Price, Tapping Our Powers Of Persuasion
*Using the art of persuasion to help the environment. Read about a psychologist’s use of the six “weapons of influence” to reduce energy consumption.

Benjamin Reiss, Campus Security And The Specter Of Mental-Health Profiling
*The shooting at Representative Gifford’s event and at VA Tech have sparked discussions about campus safety and intervening in situations where students are suspected of being mentally unbalanced. But is it justifiable to forcibly commit a student for psychiatric evaluation if they haven’t acted out violently ?

The Neurocritic, Buying Phrenology?
*Men prefer Hyundai’s over Lexus and both men and women like National Geographic. These are some of the findings from a recent report on brand preferences. Neurocritic takes a closer at the methodology used to form these conclusions, but only finds a black box.

Diane Swanbrow, Brain Scans Predict Likely Success Of Smoking Cessation
*Neural responses to anti-smoking messages seem to indicate an individual’s success in quitting.

California Institute of Technology, Neurobiologists Find That Weak Electrical Fields In The Brain Help Neurons Fire Together
*Exciting development in understanding how our brain works and the activity that occurs in extracellular spaces.

Sindya Bhanoo, How Meditation May Change The Brain
*Regular practitioners of meditation will be happy to hear that MRI scans have shown the affects of meditation on the brain, in particular improved activity in regions concerned with empathy, stress, and anxiety.

Ruth Davis Konigsberg, New Ways to Think about Grief
*The classic model of stages of grief fails in the face of real life. What the latest research really tells us about how people grieve


AAA, Changing The Face Of Anthropology
*The AAA recently released findings from a survey of people with an MA in Anthropology examining their employment prospects, average salary, and other experiences.

Keith Hart, Branding Anthropology: On Diversity And Human Nature
*Response to Greg’s piece on branding anthropology, which calls for a focus on anthropology’s origins in the Enlightenment and searching for “sameness” across cultures.

Mary Midgley, The Selfish Metaphor: Conceits of Evolution
*Nice unpacking of where the selfish gene metaphor came from, why it was culturally compelling, and why it is fundamentally wrong

Explain Yourself: George Lakoff, Cognitive Linguist
*Stimulating series of interviews with experts in explanatory journalism, this one with a cognitive linguist who has worked with the Democratic Party and his views on how reporters should write their stories and the differences between how conservatives and liberals view the world.

Masters Degree Online, 20 Excellent TED Talks for Anthropologists
*Find a good selection of TED talks – something for everyone.

Devin Henkel, An Anthropology Of Our Own
*The alphabet and words – our awareness of the environment in which we communicate.

Ursula Le Guin, The Interview
*Great interview with writer, Ursula Le Guin, on how her work has been influenced by anthropology and Taoism.

Robert Krulwich, Tools Never Die. Waddaya Mean, Never?
*Here’s a challenge for you: can you think of a tool that is no longer in use? Writer, Kevin Kelly, who was recently interviewed on NPR about his new book on technology doesn’t believe there is an example of a tool becoming extinct globally.

Welcome To The Bent Trowel
*Funny website where archaeologists laugh at themselves.

National Geographic, People and Culture
*Breath taking and diverse photographs from National Geographic in their “People and Culture” gallery.

Paul Mason, In Brazil, Oldies And Greens Can’t Agree On How To Celebrate The Queen Of The Sea
*Clash between environmental concerns and traditional cultural practices at the Festival of the Queen of the Sea in Brazil, where some are advocating for biodegradable offerings to reduce the amount of pollution during the festivities.

Kerim Friedman, Thinking About The Importance Of Communications “Revolutions”
*The recent uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt have been described as “Twitter Revolutions”, but what about the importance of literacy in bringing about political change? Freidman thoughtfully writes about how increased literacy has aided in political dissent and that social media sites, like Facebook and Twitter, while important for communication, are not the sole impetus for recent global events.

Maximilian Forte, The American Anthropological Association and Egypt: It’s Mostly About the Artifacts?
*Some righteous critique over at Zero Anthropology

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